After the powerful weekend rainstorm left nearly a half a million people in the dark throughout the region, many are still feeling the damaging affects as utility companies are scrambling to restore power to the remaining hundreds of thousand customers.
Depending on your situation and where you are, you may be able to be reimbursed for losses caused by the power outages.
New Jersey’s Public Service Electric & Gas claim policy states that claims caused by weather-related conditions are generally not covered, but all claims sent in will be evaluated individually. If you feel that any loss suffered is the fault of the company, you can file a claim by calling 1-800-CLAIM-88, by e-mail or mail. For more information or to download the claim form, visit PSE&G.
Con Edison also has a general policy that reimbursement for claims of losses from power outages cause by storms and floods cannot be given, but according to Bob McGee, a spokesperson, the company is going to “wait and see what happens with the restoration.”
Con Edison’s restoration efforts during major storms are subject to review by the Public Service Commission, which may require the company to reimburse customers for food or prescription medicine spoilage losses. For more on claims information, visit customer central.
A Long Island Power Authority spokesman said the utility does not reimburse customers at all for losses as a result of the lack of electricity caused by conditions out of its control.
Days after the storm, homes in Connecticut are still without power leaving Governor M. Jodi Rell disappointed and frustrated with response from power companies.
Rell declared Fairfield County in a state of emergency, leaving the option open for asking for federal funding to help pay for the damage. Officials hope that the federal government will reimburse some of the money to the state as well as homeowners.
Fairfield residents are urged to call the areas Fire Department and its Department of Emergency Operations to log complaints of damages to their homes and in the area.
Deputy Chief Arthur Reid of the Fairfield Fire Department and the Department of Emergency Operations told NBC Connecticut that for now the county and its residents will pay for the damage up front. Governor Rell will submit damage information to FEMA on Monday March 22.
- If you have been evacuated, do not go back into your home unless you are sure it is safe. There could be standing water, exposed electrical wire and a number of other hazards.
- When calling to report a claim, having your policy number ready can expedite things.
- Provide as many phone numbers as you can-- home, cell, office, etc.-- to make sure the insurance company can reach you.
- Take account of your losses as thoroughly as you can-- separate what has been lost from what has not.
- Whenever possible, provide pictures and videos of objects or areas in the claims from before the storm.
- Have a qualified professional make temporary repair if necessary, but save all bills, receipts and invoices.
- If the house is unlivable, check if you have coverage for additional living expenses, and save all receipts.
- For specific water damage, call for professional help immediately for prompt attention and proper clean up to prevent mold growth.
- For a wet roof, remove fixtures so wet wiring can dry and turn off the power.
- Check for holes in roof, walls and windows, and cover any with boards or tarps.
- For those still without power, leaving the freezer door closed can prevent food spoilage for up to three days.
Tomasheski also advises residents to take caution in hiring contractors for repairs. Here are some tips to avoid being a victim to a contractor scam.
- Take time to choose a true professional. It is best to get estimates from licensed and bonded contractors.
- Make sure to check credentials, which you can do through the local Better Business Bureau, Home Builder Association, or Department of Consumer Affairs.
- Ask to inspect the contractor license.
- Get a contract in writing
- Avoid paying money upfront. Some reputable companies do require some payment upfront, but it should not exceed the cost of materials or 20 percent of the total.
- Do not sign over an insurance settlement check to contractor.
- Report any suspicions to the local police.
Allstate offers a free home inventory software where you can create a room-by-room record of personal possessions. For more information or to download the software, visit Know Your Stuff.